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Reptiles good pets for owners in the know

April 30th, 2003, 06:30 PM
Reptiles good pets for owners in the know

Gail Watson
Vancouver Sun

For three decades, I've kept snakes as pets and been an active member of the Westcoast Society for the Protection and Conservation of Reptiles (Richmond considers outlawing sales of reptiles, April 22). Reptiles, like cats and dogs, make excellent pets for those who provide them with the proper care. Free advice on reptile care is available from our society.

For years, our society's adoption program has been placing reptiles in good homes. I have two healthy adoptees myself.

I've known thousands of domestic reptiles during the past 30 years and it is absolutely untrue that they suffer stress. The ideas of Debra Probert of the Vancouver Humane Society are based on the reptiles in a local refuge. But, as The Sun has reported many times, those reptiles live in overcrowded conditions that are bound to produce stress. My snakes get more exercise, sun and fresh air in one year than those in the refuge get in their entire lives. My 19-year-old snake didn't reach such an age by being stressed or mistreated.

Finally, reptiles show signs of health problems just as obviously as do cats and dogs. Ten years ago, the 19-year-old had a change in activity. My vet found an intestinal blockage, removed it in a simple, quick operation, and the snake returned to his normal behaviour.

Ms. Probert's problem is a lack of meaningful familiarity with reptiles.

Gail Watson

North Vancouver

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